Getting Smooth Waterfalls Without an ND Filter


I’ve recently discovered a trick to getting those smooth looking waterfall photos without throwing out money for a neutral density filter.  Since I’ve been asked a couple times about it I decided to just go ahead and make a simple tutorial. You will need Adobe Photoshop for this.  So, lets get going!

Step 1:

To start out, you will need to get pictures of your waterfall.  You will want to set your camera on a tripod and take multiple photos using your continuous shooting. I shot the photos in this tutorial at:  100 ISO, f22, and 1/13 shutter speed.  Since it was a bright afternoon I set my ISO and aperture to the lowest possible and then experimented with the shutter speed to get to the longest i could go without being over exposed.  Using my continuous mode, I took 6 photos.

Step 2:

Open Photoshop and add all your photos in as layers. You will need to rasterize all your layers as well –> right click on your layer and choose ‘rasterize layer’.


Step 3:

Select all layers.  Go to Edit –> Auto-Align Layers


Step 4:

With your layers still selected, go to Layer –> Smart Objects –> Convert to Smart Object.

Then, go to Layer –> Smart Object –> Stack Mode –> Mean


Step 5:

You may need to crop your edges a bit but otherwise you are DONE!  Simple, right?


I did take my image back into Lightroom to edit it a bit but that is totally up to you! Here was my final result:




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